Aubrey de Grey looks and speaks like a wizard, but don’t dismiss him. He stands out as one of the most impassioned and well-reasoned advocates for longer, healthier life. His non-profit, the SENS Foundation (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence), seeks to use regenerative medicine to combat the disability and illnesses associated with aging. In his talk last year at TEDMED, he outlined how a “maintenance approach” could drastically extend the length of healthy life by systematically combating the damage our bodies accumulate as they age. Watch the video below and you’ll start to believe that regenerative medicine is on the path to curing old age.
Regenerative medicine includes a wide range of scientific endeavors, from genetic therapies to immune system training. Stem cells get the most attention, and perhaps rightfully so. Growing a new organ in a lab, or even in the body, is pretty remarkable stuff. What we need to remember though is that scientific research is developing many different treatments for injury to our bodies. Aubrey de Grey proposes that this research (with a few additions) will be enough to keep us healthy and fit well beyond our current expectations. He outlines seven major types of damage that cause the problems associated with aging and the means to combat each (12:15).
Repairing damage, “maintenance”, could be enough to keep us going for a very long time, and in a very healthy state. In essence, de Grey is debunking the myth that getting old and frail is a necessity. Instead, he proposes that regenerative medicine, which is advancing quite rapidly, may provide longevity by the steady and cautious repair of our systems down to the cellular level. It’s an idea that requires us to rethink our attitudes about aging. The only real barrier between us and living longer could be our apathy in pursuing this kind of research.
[screen capture and video credit: TEDMED]
[source: SENS, TEDMED]